Trade war, payroll tax could be behind B.C. small business confidence dip: pollster

Canadian Federation for Independent Business poll suggests B.C. is fourth most optimistic province

Small business owners in B.C. aren’t feeling too confident this spring, suggests a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Their optimism slipped the most of the Western provinces, with it a 3.6-percentage-point drop to 65.9 per cent since February.

CFIB western economist Aaron Aerts said the drop is concerning, but there’s “nothing to panic about” – yet.

“We consider 65 per cent and up to be relatively healthy,” Aerts said. “So 65.9 per cent is not a bad number.”

He said the dip in confidence could be tied to B.C.’s recent pipeline trade war with Alberta, as well as in anticipation of the new payroll tax coming in next January.

“The payroll tax will be felt in the bottom line… by those who are looking at expanding their businesses.”

He said any concerns are just speculation for now. “It will be really telling once the tax is introduced. Fear of a tax is one thing, it’s another thing to actually pay it.”

The payroll health tax, which replaces Medical Service Plan premiums, will hit all businesses with an annual payroll of more than $500,000. Those with payrolls between $500,000-$1.5 million will pay a yet-to-be-determined rate, while those at more than $1.5 million will pay 1.95 per cent.

The tax, which comes into effect next January, means that businesses already paying health premiums for their employees will pay double the amount in 2019 before MSP is phased out in 2020.

Despite gloomy predictions for the future, Aerts said B.C. companies are still hiring in the short-term.

“We’re seeing healthy hiring intentions,” he said, noting that 27 per cent of small business owners are look to hire, compared to just nine per cent looking to cut back.

“In the short term, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in terms of employment.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Driver fined for hitting scooter in Langley City

Woman on scooter suffered minor injuries, police said

Walnut Grove Gators win Tsumura basketball championship

‘We love to run and we like to score,’ said Gators coach Darren Rowell

Langley animal welfare group reminds people about holiday pet hazards

Many staples are of the Christmas season are harmful to pets.

Spreading Christmas cheer around Aldergrove

Easing the pains and difficulties of hard times is ‘reason for the season’

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

Most Read